Thinking Globally in Youth Ministry


By Adam McLane

thinking-globally-youth-ministryAs a freshmen in high school I remember reading newspaper clip about the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was pinned on the bulletin board of my choir class. It was massive news with global impact but at fourteen I just wasn’t dialed into the news, much less things that were happening outside of my hometown. It took a teacher cutting the news out of her newspaper and pinning it to the wall where her students lined up for me to take notice of something as large as the fall of communism.

This year I have high school freshmen guys in my small group. (And my daughter is a high school freshmen, too) Each week we start our time together by asking, “What are you thinking about?” It’s quite normal that one of the guys will mention something going on globally.

I find that this is one of the many things that’s changed since most youth workers were in high school: Students have more access to news and are more engaged in things of global nature than at any other time in human history.

Consequently, if I want to engage the guys in my small group, I need to help them connect what they are already thinking about — often times global issues — to their walk with Jesus.

Why? Because their agenda and faith journey outweighs my agenda in their life. If all I’m doing is pushing Bible content each Wednesday night and then asking for prayer requests then I’ve failed them. But when I engage them on their level, with what they are thinking about, with the questions they already have like, “Where is God in the Syrian civil war?” than our small group is pulling them into connecting the faith of their childhood to the action of more adult-like faith in Jesus. They already know that an all-loving Jesus really cares about what’s going on in Syria and my small group guys need to see that they can help. What they need to see is that God’s people really care, too.

It’s not enough that my students have heard about a natural disaster or the refugee crisis impacting Northern Africa and Europe on Twitter. They are looking for ways that they can help because that’s what historical Christianity has always done.

As a youth worker, you’d be wise to continually look for resources that can help the teenagers in your life connect the stuff they care about and are thinking about to their faith in Christ. And THAT– that is just one of the many things I love about the 30 Hour Famine. That’s why it’s a “must-have” thing on your calendar.